InvitationPoetryCelebration-2It’s a great honour and a privilege to have been awarded the first of what I hope will be many Poetry Laureateships to highlight the vital work of the reserve. My ambition is that the residency will encourage a wider engagement with poetry and the natural world as well as celebrate and showcase the vibrancy of the community arts and environmental projects at the reserve.

Read the full Judges Report on the Pacuare Reserve Blog

EXTRACT: “Judging the Pacuare Poetry competition was a hugely enjoyable experience. We want to thank everyone who submitted a poem: each and every poem that we read gave us a new way of looking at the relationship between the human and the natural, whether humorous, wise, angry, celebratory or fantastical.

Our search was for poems with qualities that suggested the poet was both technically accomplished and would be an inspiring and engaged Poet Laureate for the Pacuare Nature Reserve in the coming year. The key qualities were

If you want a clearer explanation of what on earth we are talking about, look at the winning poem by Saradha Soobrayen, ‘Their homecoming is not yet out of reach, not yet out of sight’. It combines the three key elements of our winning qualities: clear and wise communication, responsiveness, and specificity. Soobrayen’s concise and yet evocative poem links the fraught and hidden history of the Chagos islands and the UK’s expulsion of the islanders between 1963-1974 to make space for a military base on Diego Garcia, with the status of this region of the Indian Ocean as an Environment Preservation and Protection Zone, twice the size of the UK:


‘…the world’s largest

no-take, marine protected area enclosing the mainland and its siblings—

Peros Banhos, Salomon and Egmont—its people denied the right to return.’


The poem sits with the political and legal conflicts inherent in this situation in an extraordinarily inventive way: weaving quotations from Emily Dickinson and Yeats into original lines of beautiful clarity and breadth. We are invited to take in the majesty, the beauty, and the misery of our relationship with nature and with place.”

Read UK Chagos Support Association Article On Writing The Winning Poem